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Things you wanted to know about Varo, but were afraid to ask.. or FAQs

Things you wanted to know about Varo, but were afraid to ask.. or FAQs

What is Jollof Rice?

Jollof Rice is (essentially) rice cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. It is probably the most popular West African dish. Some say Jollof Rice originated in Gambia, but many Nigerians will dispute that :) In Senegal, Jollof is cooked with meat (as opposed to served with meat) and In Ghana, chunks of tomatoes are visible, as opposed to being finely blended. Same dish, slightly different textures and flavours.

Important fact - No Nigerian party is complete without Jollof Rice!


How did you get into producing jollof rice?

Varo was founded by Omamo Binitie in 2011 to make African ready meals. He trained as an accountant, but entrepreneurship is probably ‘in his blood’, as both his father and grandfather ran businesses in Lagos, Nigeria, as did he.

Our first product was Varo Moinmoin in 2013, quickly followed Varo Jollof Rice in 2014. Our range were first listed in Tesco, then Asda in July 2016. We're always working on new products, as *innovation* is what we do.


The product has a long shelf life, how is that possible?

Varo Jollof Rice is made in pretty much the same way as you would at home, but on a grander, industrial scale – parboil the rice, make a spicy sauce, combine and cook together.

We 'cook' our Jollof in individual pouches, instead of a ‘large cooking pot’, until all naturally occurring bacteria (or spores) are killed at high temperatures. We therefore don't need to add preservatives. As long as the pouch is not perforated, the product will remain safe to eat for a little over it’s 18 month shelf life.


Is your Jollof Rice high in calories?

Each 250g pouch of Varo Jollof Rice typically serves 2 people, which provides 301 calories per serving. The Coconut Jollof is slightly higher at 330 calories a serving, because of the higher oil content in the coconut extract.

A meal of Jollof Rice served with a piece of meat or fish (150 calories?) and a side salad (10 calories?) would be about 500 calories. The key is 'portion control', really.


Is Varo Jollof Rice suitable for vegetarians?

Yes, our Jollof rice is suitable for Vegans and Vegetarians, as no meat, eggs or dairy is used in production. Varo Jollof Rice is also Gluten Free.


Is your Jollof Rice spicy considering it is African food?

Our Jollof Rice “Mild” variants aren't (really) spicy, but for those craving a stronger chilli kick, we would recommend the ‘Jollof Rice Original’!


Where is your Jollof Rice made?

We’re currently working with a manufacturer in Northern India to help translate our home recipes into products for the mass market. India is the world’s 2nd largest producer of rice (after China).

We don't currently own or run our own factories.


Where can I buy Varo Jollof Rice?

Varo Jollof Rice is currently available in the Afro Caribbean sections of Tesco, Asda and select independent retailers. Our products are also available to buy from our Online Shop.
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